Brit Paper Hacked Murdered Girl's Voicemail
Family given false hope as journalists cleared old messages
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2011 3:36 AM CDT
"It is distress heaped upon tragedy to learn the News of the World have no humanity at such a terrible time," a lawyer for the Dowler family said.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

(Newser) – Even by the standards of British tabloids, this is pretty low: The News of the World hacked into the voicemail of a missing 13-year-old girl in 2002, a Guardian investigation finds. Journalists deleted old messages on Millie Dowler's phone to make space for new ones, giving her family hope that she was still alive when she had in fact been murdered. A nightclub bouncer was recently found guilty of her murder and jailed for life.

The Dowler family's lawyer describes the paper's action as "heinous" and "despicable," and says the family is planning to sue. Police are planning to speak to executives at the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper about the Dowler case, reports the BBC. Five people have already been arrested in connection with allegations that the paper tapped the phones of celebrities, royals, and politicians.